Two years of not crossing the Atlantic seems to have resulted in my body forgetting how to cope with jet lag when travelling from East to West. I was awake at 3am but managed to doze on and off until 5am when I just had to get up to prevent waking Karen with my jifflings.
It was still dark and so I sat quietly and used the MacBook to catch up on things and write the blog. Once dawn had broken, I explored the pool area which all seemed quite acceptable. By now though I was getting hungry and ready for breakfast, but we had no food in the villa at all.
Karen and Neil both emerged from their slumbers and respective rooms about the same time around 7.15am and we all agreed to get ready to head straight out for provisions.
Our first stop was at the clubhouse on site to get the gate access card to allow us to get back to the villa. We had a quick look around the clubhouse and it seemed well taken care of with lots of facilities we could use if we had time. I ignored the noticeboard as it contained details of a bear siting on the site and a request to ensure all trash was secured away to not attract them.
We headed to Dollar Tree which is the American equivalent of Poundland. This was to pick up whatever household necessities we could find inside. We find the shop useful to stock up on things like toilet rolls and dishwasher tablets as you can buy them in very small quantities which is perfect when we are only here for a couple of weeks.
Then it was off to Publix for the big shop. And it was a big shop in a big, deserted shop. We loaded with everything from wine to fruit to cereals. I hope this means we will only need to top up on fresh items for the rest of our trip.
Back at the villa using our new access pass, the three of us quickly uploaded and then we all had our late breakfast. As the weather was now lovely, we decided to stay and chill by the pool for the rest of the morning.
After a quick lunch we rejiggled our schedule as it was due to cloud up during the afternoon and headed out to the premium outlets at Vineland.
Now before we left home Karen had decreed that there wasn’t anything she needed to buy on this trip. What happened was the exact opposite of that in a frenzy of shopping. Now I know I would get into trouble if I detailed all her purchases apart from one. As I assume everyone is aware Karen does have issues with her feet and must have very specific shoes that prevents the problem getting much worse and more painful. These were detailed by the consultant. In particular she has to wear certain type of trainers. Normally she goes to Sportlink in Taverham who can supply the specific ones. They do make real difference to her being able to walk any distance. The problem is that has to pay over £125 for each pair. So, when she saw the exact same ones in a shop in the outlets out of interest, she went to have a look. She also went into a hard negotiation mode, something I had never seen from her before. The poor salesman didn’t know what had hit him. She got offered discount for this, that and the other. She walked out with a pair for the equivalent of only £47 and a big smile on her face.
With a boot full of shopping bags, we headed back to the Villa to unload (after a quick Starbucks drive through for a shopped-out Karen). By now with the time difference, we started exchanging messages with both Barry & Ellie as they were starting their first full day in LA.
After a final hour sitting outside by the pool, we then headed out to Disney Springs for the evening. The Orange Car Park had loads of spaces which we took as a sign that it hopefully wouldn’t be too busy. We wondered whether we would see any post pandemic changes to Disney. The first one was obvious in that before we could even leave the car park, we had to go through a security check although it did seem rather perfunctory in nature.
Considering the spaces on the car park, it did seem quite busy when we emerged into Disney Springs itself. The wearing of masks in all indoor areas was mandatory and everyone was complying. We also noticed straight away that all shops were much more spartanly stocked than before. This was obviously to create more space in each shop to prevent overcrowding.
One or two of the shops and attractions had disappeared (most noticeably being the NBA experience which now stood sadly dark and empty) but equally there were some new ones that had popped up as well. The only place that was limiting entry was the Lego store which had a long queue of people waiting to go in.
Our first stop was Blaze Pizza for our evening meal. As usual it was top notch, and this is now coming from a Pizza Oven Chef expert (even if I say so myself).
As we wandered slowly taking in the atmosphere, I became aware that my back was hurting more and more. I was in a lot of pain and if I am honest, I just wanted to go back and rest it. But I didn’t wait all this time to come here again, and I didn’t want to ruin it for Karen & Neil, so I soldiered on. I do not know what caused the soreness. It could have been the long flight the day before, hauling cases around or even the comfortable but quite soft bed. Whatever it was, all I knew was the pain. It meant that I was reduced to a painful slow shuffle and it took much effort even for that. I was also tired and feeling the jet lag which didn’t help and possibly contributed. Now I do have prescribed painkillers but I hate taking them and see them as admitting defeat. So far this year I have only resorted to taking them twice and both times was just precautionary when I knew I had overdone things in respect of my back. I have been told as I get older the problem and the problem will get worse and is one of the reasons we are trying to do as much as we can whilst we can.
We managed to do the normal full loop around Disney Springs. Another disappointing change was that Ghirardelli were no longer handing out free chocolate’s, which was a shame as Karen was looking forward to her free festive Peppermint Bark squares.
One of the highlights of Disney Springs at this time of year is the Christmas Tree Trail. This year it had evolved into a ‘stroll’ instead. Rather than having all the trees together in a quite compact area, presumably for Covid reasons the trees were now scattered the entire length of Disney Springs. We didn’t succeed in finding any of the ‘Stroll maps’ but agreed we would come back another day to find the different trees.
And so, our first day came to end back at the villa with a glass of medicinal Red Wine before jet lag meant I could barely keep my eyes open any longer and I went to bed for the night at 10.30am. It had been a very but very enjoyable day – apart from the back pain tonight.